8 March 1996

Low in dirty league

LATEST pollution figures from the National Rivers Authority Anglian region show agriculture sharing bottom position in the incidents league table.

The figures for 1995 show agriculture accounted for 10% of all incidents and 18% of all serious incidents. Transport also accounted for 10% of all incidents but only 6% of serious incidents. The sew-age industry topped the table for all incidents at 26%. But its share of serious incidents fell to 24%.

The NRAs Alan Barnden told the Farmers Link conference that the main reason for the higher level of serious incidents attributed to agriculture was the highly polluting effect of some farm effluents and the toxicity of some pesticides.

The Anglian region accounted for 35% of national pig pollution incidents and 29% of poultry incidents. Figures also showed 46% of the national total of arable pollution incidents were in the region.

But overall water quality was generally good and improving, said Mr Barnden. That was mostly due to investment in better sewage treatment. Inorganic pollution from nitrates and pesticides would remain an issue into the next millennium, he added.

The NRA only had analytical tests for fewer than 150 of the 450 chemicals approved for use and it only analysed for about 120. Those mostly likely to cause pollution including most herbicides and insecticides, in particular sheep-dip were targeted. Fungicides would be a problem, he said, if the NRA had the appropriate techniques to detect them.